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The Importance Of Research In Education

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Third, increasing student mobility poses a challenge to measuring the performance of individual higher education institutions. National longitudinal databases maintained by the National Center for Education Statistics have yielded valuable knowledge and understand- ing of student progress in higher education, Bailey said.

However, the data come from limited national samples of all students, including a smaller group of about 1, to 1, students who have ever attended community col- lege. Given the small size of the national community college sample, it is impossible to analyze student progress in a single state, in demographic subgroups, or in a single educational institution.

In contrast, the state. Bailey expressed surprise at how rarely community colleges analyze their own internal student records. Many of the 83 colleges participating in the Achieving the Dream project lack information on such questions as how many and which type of students succeed in developmental educa- tion and go on to take regular college courses.

Although FERPA poses no barrier to a college in analyzing the progress of its own students, weak information technology IT systems pose significant barriers. Community college IT systems are designed to track enrollments once each year and to send these data to the state for reimbursement, rather than to track individual students over time.

Although some states and colleges are trying to improve their IT systems, many do not place a high priority on analysis of student progress. According to Bailey, members of community college boards do not understand what kinds of research could be con- ducted using student records and how that research might improve their educational programs. Studies using longitudinal data to track student progress over time have already yielded important insights, because they allow researchers to track student responses to educational interventions over long time periods, Bailey observed.

For example, a study in Ohio Purnell and Blank, found that guidance counseling had strong positive effects on student success in the first two semesters of community college, but these effects had vanished two years later. Studies of developmental education in Florida Calcagno and Long, and Ohio Bettinger and Long, found that taking these remedial courses had little effect over three years, but greater effects over six years.

In another analysis, the Washington State Community College Board found that less affluent students tended to enroll in occupational programs, while their more affluent counterparts more often enrolled in prebaccalaureate transfer programs. In another example, Bailey presented an analysis of student progres- sion in mathematics developmental and gatekeeper courses at a single institution.

Among students assigned to developmental mathematics courses, 34 percent never enrolled and another 13 percent completed a course but never enrolled in the following gatekeeper course. This kind of information can be surprising to community college leaders, who often focus on improving instruction in individual courses without considering how to ensure that students actually attend classes they are assigned to.

In the few states whose longitudinal databases link elementary and. A survey Ewell and Boeke, found that only 11 state databases included these links, slowing research on this impor- tant topic.

For example, dual enrollment programs, in which high school students may take college courses, are growing rapidly, but little research is available on their effectiveness. The Community College Research Cen- ter has done a preliminary study of dual enrollment in Florida, because it has one of the few databases with linked records for K and higher education. More broadly, the increased mobility of all college students makes linked data across colleges crucial for any analysis of higher education outcomes.

Without such linked data sets, education officials must rely on weak measures, such as the Gradu- ation Rate Survey. This measure, which includes only full-time students, is a weak indicator of community college outcomes, since 66 percent of community college students enroll part-time. In addition, the survey excludes transfers and students who register in the spring, and it tracks students for only three years. They found that, although only While improved accountability measures are important, Bailey said, the real value of the state databases is in allowing more comprehensive and sophisticated analysis of student progress.

Individual colleges and state higher education systems could potentially conduct a great deal of valuable research, but this will require a change of priorities, improvement in their IT systems, and increases in their analytic capabilities.

For example, research- ers analyzing linked data in Washington found that, among community college students who took adult basic education courses, those who con- tinued in other courses and completed least 30 credit hours earned more money later than those who completed fewer credit hours Prince and Jenkins, On the basis of this research, the state created a new pro- gram integrating adult basic education and occupational skills training.

Code, Title 34, Part 99, Section While this provision has allowed valuable research in education policy and practice, Loeb said, it has been inter- preted in very different ways. Some schools and education agencies have shared data, while others have not. In her view, the difficulty of interpret- ing the law has required both researchers and school personnel to expend substantial effort on compliance.

Addressing the question of why an education agency might want to give researchers access to its data, Loeb said that education policy mak- ers often seek research evidence to inform their decisions. However, most school districts and state departments of education have quite limited capacity to conduct research.

Researchers at universities and think tanks can provide the time and some of the expertise needed to make the best use of the information that education agencies have. In addition, outside researchers often have the flexibility to look at medium-run and long-run questions that do not help as directly with day-to-day decisions but can inform better decisions in the future.

The first benefit of allowing access is that researchers have time to compile and analyze data, Loeb said. Because linking and cleaning data from multiple sources is time-consuming, very few states and school districts have done so. For example, she belongs to a team of researchers studying the teacher workforces of New York City and New York state,.

From New York state, they obtained data on individual teachers, includ- ing whether they were certified, their scores on the certification exam, and which teacher education program they had completed.

While the research team had time to devote to this process, it is unlikely that any single education agency in New York would be able to compile all of these data sets. FERPA protections apply both to the individual student data and also to the individual teachers when they were students. As a result of this change, the average math SAT scores of teachers in the poorest schools increased dramatically. Today, the poorest schools employ higher scoring new teachers than the richer schools.

The second benefit of allowing access is that researchers provide expertise. Although school district and state personnel can often answer day-to-day questions by providing accurate, timely descriptive statis- tics, outside researchers are able to analyze longitudinal data in much more sophisticated ways. They conduct value-added analyses to assess how much various factors contribute to student learning over time and difference-in-difference analyses to compare patterns in two different time periods.

Outside researchers also use a variety of techniques for simulating experiments. After randomly assign- ing students or schools or both to treatment and control groups, Loeb said, the researchers are not required to gather survey data from the two groups, relying instead on the data that are collected on an ongoing basis in a state or school district database.

These improvements in teacher qualifications in the poorest of schools reduced the gap between rich and poor schools in student achievement by 25 percent see Figure Second, she described studies by Jacob and Lefgren , of a policy introduced in Chicago public schools requiring students scoring below a specific cut score on a reading and mathematics test to be retained in grade. In contrast to previ- ous studies, which generally have found that retention has a negative effect on student achievement, Jacob and Lefgren found increases in measured academic achievement one year later among students who were retained in third grade.

However, in comparison to students not held back, these gains vanished by the time the students reached sixth grade. For example, Boyd et al. They found that most public school teachers in New York take their first public school teaching job very close to their hometowns or to where they attended college. Teacher candidates coming from sub- urban or rural hometowns strongly prefer to remain in those areas, rather than teach in urban districts.

Their findings have particular implications for the long-term policies of urban districts, which are net importers of teachers. The study suggests that urban districts must offer salaries, working conditions, or student populations that are more attractive than those of the surrounding suburban districts to attract sufficiently quali- fied candidates.

The broad perspective that outside researchers bring to education questions is apparent in studies that yield important policy information for more than one education agency. For example, an analysis conducted as part of the study of New York City teachers Boyd et al.

The study also identified features of teacher preparation programs associated with greater gains in student. Despite these important benefits to education agencies that share data, Loeb said, researchers often find it difficult and costly to gain access to education data sets. She asserted that the many local school districts, states, and higher education institutions that are interpreting FERPA lack clarity about how to comply. As a result, people in each organization have to think about compliance before providing access.

For example, Loeb said, the research team studying the New York state and city teacher workforces had to obtain approvals for the research from over 20 differ- ent state and local education agencies and higher education institutions. The process led to a different data- sharing agreement with each organization.

The team has a contract to act as an agent of New York State and has signed memoranda of understand- ing with many school districts across the country, each of which is slightly different from the others.

A few districts do not want a formal memoran- dum of understanding but require the research team to fill out a form. For example, although her workshop paper Loeb, includes sample language from a memorandum of understanding with one school district, most of the school districts were unwilling to publicly share their memoranda, because of uncertainty about compliance.

Another result of the process is that researchers must work with incomplete and unrepresentative data, because agencies that do not want to share their data use FERPA as an excuse not to provide them. Even agencies that are willing to share data sometimes do and sometimes do not, depending on how much time they have and whether they know and trust the researchers.

For example, her research on the New York teacher workforce was strengthened by extensive discussions with city and state officials. She explained that she is able to access other data from other school districts because she is part of a group at Stanford that gives executive training to superintendents from around the country about the benefits of sharing data with researchers.

However, she expressed deep concern about the value and impor- tance of education research. Schneider called on researchers to establish a new form of relationship with state education officials, including the ideas not only of researchers, but also of the state, and emphasizing the shared interests of both parties.

She asked how researchers can go back to agencies and institutions with which they have signed memoranda of understanding to discuss findings that may be negative and, if so, whether the agencies or institutions might pressure the researchers not to publish such findings. She asked about the long- term implications, particularly in light of her call for a new relationship between researchers and education agencies. Loeb responded that she has observed a change in the way her team interacts with New York City school officials.

Teachers read and discussed five research articles representing different research genres. Handbook of Education Policy pp A literature review organized into three parts: The connection between research and practice. Educational Researcher , 26 7 , Reviews four hypotheses that have been put forward to account for a perceived lack of connection between research and practice: How teachers connect research and practice.

Midwestern Educational Researcher , 10 1 , Keynote address at the MWER conference. Examines teachers' interpretations of a research article and shows how prior beliefs can lead to idiosyncratic interpretations.

Prior to joining Michigan State, I conducted a study of how school districts used the many forms of data that the federal government required them to gather. Most of the papers below were about or inspired by that study. Part of a symposium on how to organize research so that it better connects to practice.

Studying smoking behavior to learn about dissemination. Creation, diffusion, utilization , 11 1 , This paper was written in response to a collection of papers in which authors fretted about the pontial for research to influence practice. I used smoking as an example to illustrate that, once people knowledge from research, they believe their actions are their own idea.

A topic that was timely in the mid s and again in the early 's. How evidence alters understanding and decisions. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis , 6 3 , Reviews the different ways in which local school district personnel interact with available evidence and the kinds of uses they made of it.

Assessing the validity of qualitative data. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis , 6 4 , Examines the question of whether qualitative data really have the sort of "natural" validity that is often assumed. Reviews some threats to validity that are inherent in interview data. Creation, diffusion, utilization , 5, I coined the term "working knowledge" to refer to knowledge that is both specific to the work situation and also tentative and evolving. This paper shows how people draw on relevant evidence to revise their working knowledge and also how they use their working knowledge to interpret the evidence.

Evaluation Review 7 4 On the tension between conducting evaluations that meet professional standards, and at the same time accomodating the problem solving styles of practitioner audiences.


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Educational Researcher, 26(7), Reviews four hypotheses that have been put forward to account for a perceived lack of connection between research and practice: research lacks authority, lacks relevance, or is not accessible, or the education system is inherently unable to respond coherently to research findings. Kennedy, M. M. ().

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One important aspect of such inquiry is the question of the relationship between public and political understandings of educational purposes and values, on the one hand, and educational policies and practices on the other. The Value of Research {ARTICLES FOR THE SPRING NEWSLETTER SHOULD REACH RENEE RUBIN ROSS, [email protected], BY APRIL 1, } VALUE OF RESEARCH, next page. fall >>> the network for research in jewish education t is hard to believe that it has been three months since our conference at NYU. I would once again like to.

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The Importance Of Research In Education In his address to the ResearchED national conference on Monday 12 September, School Standards Minister Nick Gibb described the growing influence of the teaching profession in shaping the educational landscape. THE VALUE OF EDUCATION RESEARCH 27 secondary school records with higher education records, it is possible to assess the effectiveness of K education in preparing young people for higher education. A survey (Ewell and Boeke, ) found that only 11 state databases included these links, slowing research on this impor- tant topic.